Sunday School Christmas Story – Life is uncertain but follow God
I’m going to look at the Sunday School Christmas story of Joseph and Mary from a different perspective today, one of trust, the unknown and of risk. I’m sure Mary was looking forward to her future life. After all she was getting married to Joseph who had a secure job, loved her and loved God, but God was about to radically change their lives.
Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth surrounded by friends and family. I think it was a safe place that Mary could picture herself living in for the rest of her life. Joseph was an established carpenter who would provide Mary with a comfortable and stable home to raise a family. One day however an angel came to Mary and in an instant everything changed. He said “God is very pleased with you and because of this you will become pregnant and have a baby boy. You are to name him Jesus. He will be called the Son of the Most High God and the Lord God will make him king like his ancestor David. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Mary asked how will this happen since I’m a virgin and the Angel said the Holy Spirit will come over you and will cover you. The baby will be holy and called the Son of God. Wow! I’d be thinking what just happened here. What are people going to say. What is Joesph going to say? Who is going to believe this? Am I going to be stoned to death? Mary said: “I am the Lord’s servant. Let this thing you have said happen to me!” Mary did not know what was ahead for her. She did not know that she would have to flee her country to keep Jesus alive. She did not know the pain and suffering she would have to endure. She just said I am the Lord’s servant. Whatever you want I will do.
Mary told Joseph about Jesus who was skeptical, but God visited Joesph in a dream and confirmed what Mary had told him. Their lives had just been totally changed. All their plans of getting married and raising children in midst of family and friends – gone. It had to be a scary time but they choose to follow God no matter what.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a stable. I would have been thinking “A stable? Is this the best we can do for the Son of God? The God who created all of the earth and the stars being born in a stable?” but Mary accepted God’s plan for her life. They spent about two years in Bethlehem before fleeing to Egypt and only returned to Nazareth after Herod’s death. When Jesus was 12 Mary and Joesph lost Jesus in Jerusalem. I know I’d have been thinking “How could this happen? God has trusted us with His Son and now we’ve lost him!
There are more stories but the point is clear: following God was filled with uncertainty, hardships and pain. Mary and Joesph were asked to follow God no matter what the personal cost. Having Jesus, God’s son as their son did not remove them from risk. If following God meant uncertainty, risk and hardship for Mary and Joesph it could mean the same for us.
God has not called us to live a life of quiet safety but to follow Him no matter what. This year for the Christmas story I’ll teach my Sunday School class about risk, not how to avoid it but how to engage with it by following God. I’ve put a few resources below that can help you teach children about following Jesus this Christmas.
Christmas Story Coloring card by Memory Cross. Craft project that will help children to remember the story. It is available as a 6, 12 or 100 pack.
Video by Francis Chan. Has nothing to do with Christmas but everything to do with risk. If you want to show it to your children at Sunday School and don’t have internet connection at church click the link below and it will download to your computer.
This moving video is sung by Cee Lo. The song is Mary did you know. I selected it not only because it is a very moving video but shows all the uncertainty that Mary had in her life. How could she ever have pictured what her life would be like when she said yes to God.
To download this video click here.
This Christmas animation story tells the birth of Jesus within the history of the world. I plan on using it with my 5th grade Sunday School class for Christmas after we talk about walking in faith – lessons from Mary and Joseph.
To download this video to your computer click this link.
Some of the questions I want to ask are:
- How would you feel if you were Mary (or Joseph)?
- Read Luke 1: 26-38. Tell me what the story is about?
- What risks was Mary taking?
- Read Luke 2: 1-20. How do you think Mary felt having to put God’s son in a feeding manager? What do you think she thought about the shepherds?
- What does this story tell us about following Jesus and risk?
- Watch the video by Francis Chen. What does he say about risk?
- Watch the Mary did you know video. Mary did not know much when she was asked to carry God’s son. She just knew she wanted to obey. When have you felt God calling you? Did it involve stepping outside your comfort zone and taking risk?
- Watch the 3rd video. What does that tell us about God’s plan for our lives?
- Finish by handing out the Memory Cross Christmas coloring card as a way to help the children remember the story.
I looked at the Sunday School Christmas story from a different perspective this year. God has called us to say what Mary said: “I am the Lord’s servant.” This lesson could be used at Sunday School, Children’s Church or with your own kids.
Always love to hear what you think. How is God calling you today?